Category Archives: awareness

Legal, Ethical, Moral – They’re Not The Same

My father was a lawyer, and a damn good one, at that. He spent the majority of his career practicing corporate law, which meant he had an opportunity to educate people around him who otherwise wouldn’t have had a lot of access to all things law.

When I was a lot younger, maybe in my early teens, I remember once saying to my dad, “…but it’s totally legal,” about some topic or other. He took the opportunity to teach me what that really means when I’m saying it.

“Legal” is not something to aspire to. It’s not a high bar. In fact, as he said, “It’s the lowest acceptable form of human behavior.” It’s one step away from illegal, which is criminal.

To say you’re “legally compliant” doesn’t actually say much. It’s not a badge of honor to wear or something to be proud of. Because the simple truth is:

“Legal” is not ethical.
“Legal” is not moral.

Acting “within the law” is doing just enough to not be criminal… today. Because laws are subjective and made by people in power, they change with the times. They are a moving bar. Not too long ago, there were a lot of “legal” things that today would seem abhorrent (slavery, child labor, women as property, domestic violence, etc.)

Legal is not the same as ethical.
Legal is not the same as moral.

I thank God every day for my father teaching me that concept at such a young age, because it shifted my perspective. Instead of thinking of being “legally compliant” as the high-water mark, I came to see being ethical and having a moral compass as the high-water marks and the law as the lowest acceptable form of behavior in which I could ever engage.

Where I see a problem lurking in today’s world is that a lot of people and companies do the reverse. They give themselves gold stars and accolades for simply doing the minimum: acting in accordance with the law. (Just one step lower and they would all be criminals.) And they set ethics and morality as something up in the stars, nice to look at but impossible to reach, so they rarely try. *sigh*

Those stars, however, are not very far away. They’re within reach of everybody, because to me, being ethical means being human and having compassion, making decisions from a place of empathy, equity, and understanding. And a moral compass is about making the deliberate decision to behave ethically.

So, the next time someone tells you they were “acting legally” or “in accordance with the law” – it might be worth it to dig a little deeper and find out what they really mean, because they’re not saying very much if they use those words.

It’s All About You (even when it isn’t)

If you think something you read online is about you, it probably is – even if it isn’t.

Let me explain.

Over the weekend, I posted some words about truth and wisdom. Then this morning, I shared how incongruent it is to preach light (or truth) and spread anything fear-based. And then I got some push back. A few people were courageous enough (I truly respect their courage for actually asking) to reach out and ask me if what I had written was about them.

The short answer was “no.”

But the long answer is… “probably.”

Because if you read something online that someone else wrote, and you get a twinge in your gut or mind that it might be about you, even if it’s not… then it probably is – because you are feeling something. You are feeling the message in the words, and it’s prompting you to call your own actions into question. So, even if it wasn’t written with you in mind – if you’re feeling it, then yes, it’s about you. 

More importantly, it’s within you, and has nothing to do with the other person (like me, or anyone else writing and sharing stuff). They’re simply the mirror or message that you need in that moment. For both the positive empowering stuff, and the twinge-y kind of stuff that gives us pause and makes us angry, resentful, or curious to ask the question.

The bottom line is simple: We’re all on a journey of our own making, and yet, we’re also walking this path together. It’s a duality of truth that feels contradictory, and is anything but. So, if someone shares something that prompts something in you, it’s an opportunity… a gift. It’s a chance for you to modify your path slightly, as we journey together. Cool, huh?

What I Learned Watching Ants

Today, during my fitness session the coaching assistant said to me, “You’re really stressed. Your body is tensing in random places, while you’re trying to isolate other areas. I think you need to figure out how to get everything to just… be.” Followed repeatedly by: “Relax, relax, relax,” as she jiggled my thigh muscles.

She isn’t wrong. There are, of course, many reasons why this is true, not the least of which is the significant gait change I had over the last 3-4 years from a hiking injury (more on that another time, but did you know how INCREDIBLY impactful something as small as a gait change can be on the rest of your body? I do now! But I digress…)

Where was I? Oh yes, she isn’t wrong. I carry stress throughout my physical body, and my major muscles (quads, especially) work to compensate for everybody else. They’re the superheroes of my muscular system, always stepping in to save the day – which also means that they rarely allow any other muscle groups to get in on the action anymore. At least not properly. Compensating muscles are the worst enablers of the human body. 

So, here I am with significantly weak muscle systems and overly built-up other muscles, and working to bridge the gap in between. As it turns out, it’s not easy. Just trying to get my foot muscles to do basic moves on their own proved to be an exercise in simultaneous multiple-firing synapses in my brain, causing chaos and confusion. It was weird!

I have to give it time. And, perhaps more importantly, I have to give my system some downtime. I’m not the best at that. I use Yoga Nidra meditations – especially at night – when I need some external help. They work well, but it’s not the same as figuring out how to allow my body to take space and time to rebalance on its own. Admittedly, I’ve figured it out for my spirit and my brain (for the most part), but the physical stumps me. I’ve always just “pushed through” when I needed to, and laid back when I didn’t. Not very balanced. Also leads to a lot of injury. Unfortunately.

Then today, when I got home from my appointment, the skies had cleared, there was a gentle breeze, and the temps had dropped to just around 70º – in other words, it was perfect. My kind of weather. So, I took my water, went outside with the dogs, and sat in the lounge chair for a bit. As I was sitting there, I noticed the ants on the patio going about their business. One, in particular was carrying something two times bigger than itself, and I watched as it maneuvered around obstacles and climbed over others. It was impressive.

My body started to relax and quiet. I began to notice other things, like the iridescence of a fly that came to land nearby.

Then I saw the other ants moving around the patio floor, and they were all different sizes. I learned about ants in school and knew that they each had different roles in the colony, and that their size would relate to that, but it was different to see it in action. Eventually, I decided to just lie down and watch the ants. For about half an hour. Thirty minutes of doing nothing but watching ants go about their day.

Perhaps some would see this as wasteful, or lazy, but it was one of the more self-healing things I have done in a while. My heart rate slowed, my breathing grew deeper, and the best part: my muscles relaxed. All of them. I didn’t have to do anything, or think about anything to get them to relax, they simply did. It’s their natural state. 

Now, as I’m typing this only thirty minutes later, I can feel the sense of calm that I acquired outside wash over me. It’s quite profound, actually. It’s a physical peace that is starting to come close to the inner peace I have already cultivated.

Nature is one of the greatest gifts we have. I’ve taught almost all my clients to use nature to restore their inner nature, and it works. Today, I got to listen to my own advice and use it to restore my outward – or physical – nature, and it’s wonderful. 

I’ll definitely be watching ants again. Along with the birds, bees, butterflies, and any other small creatures that allow me to witness their comings and goings. Of course, the ants are wonderful because they’re so small and you can get lost in their world in only a few inches of space. I think that helps, actually.

The symbolism of the ants and their hierarchy isn’t lost on me either. Each member has their job to do, and if just one ant starts taking over someone else’s job, the system will fall apart. My compensating muscles need to re-learn their roles (and stick to them, like these industrious ants tending to the colony’s front door), while my weaker muscles need to remember how great they are at what they do. All in good time…

Ants moving grass

We Don’t Have Three Feet

We don’t have three feet – so it’s time to stop acting like we do.

I run into this all the time with clients, friends, family, acquaintances  – even in the mirror. We seem to think we have three feet… but we don’t.

Three Feet. (This image reminds me of My Three Sons (the TV show), but I digress.)

Too often, and we’re all guilty of it, we live life trying to keep one foot in the past (resentment, grudges, hurt, blame, shame, anger, etc.), while also trying to put one foot in the future (hope, manifesting, daydreaming, planning, preparing, making goals, striving, wishing, etc.). But this strategy leaves nothing for the present. And it’s the present that allows us to move into the future with more ease, while also allowing the past to heal with grace.

You only have two feet – where do you want to put them?

The Importance of Simple Pleasures

Like many people I know, over the last month I have felt emotionally inundated with one shocking headline story after another. My sympathetic nervous system felt under attack, and I needed to do something about it. It’s the old “oxygen mask” rule of taking care of yourself before assisting others, because otherwise, you’re no good to anyone.

So, one day, I decided to snap a pic of my silly face enjoying some olives… because they made me so happy! They were a new discovery at my local grocery store, and they were DELICIOUS!! So, I took a picture. Then another, and I found myself laughing and smiling and, most importantly, emotionally lifted. I shared it with friends, and they, too, smiled at my goofiness. I hashtagged it #simplepleasures and didn’t think about it again.

Original Post: With everything going on in the world it’s SO IMPORTANT to find little joys. And today, I did! My local grocery store has THE BEST olives!! #simplepleasuresmakelifebetter #iloveagoodolive

Then, a couple of days later, another small thing made me wonderfully happy: A new pair of fun earrings, and I thought: Hmm…. there’s something here. So I wrote another post, played around with a fun new photo app, and shared it.

Original Post: Remember my post about simple pleasures making life better (or some days, just bearable)? Well, the other day it was olives… whereas tonight it’s shiny new baubles!! What do we think?! I LOVE them! They’re like glistening mandala ornaments for my ears. <3

And with that, I started doing a daily #simplepleasures post for about a week just to see what would happen. What I noticed was that I was pausing more and taking better note of my daily life. I watched insects crawl and fly around on flowers, I listened to rain on the roof at night, and I sipped my tea more consciously, rather than guzzling down the morning caffeine.

While the world continued to spiral all around me, I felt more grounded and better able to remain emotionally-balanced. Subsequently, I also felt more more discerning about where I focused my energy and time. And that’s what’s important here: we have to be discerning about where we focus our attention.

With everything vying for some piece of our time or focus, it’s increasingly more and more important to be thoughtful and deliberate about how we move through our days. While our news stations seem to primarily focus on the “bad” things that are happening (see my “PS” below), it becomes increasingly more important for us to take pause in our lives and identify the good things. An awareness practice, like #simplepleasures, is a perfect example of how to do this.

Here are the rest of my week’s posts using the #simplepleasures hashtag. I invite you to try this out for yourself. Make a game out of it with friends and family. It doesn’t mean you’re ignoring the “bad” that’s going on in the world; it means that you’re choosing to keep yourself healthy, grounded and balanced, in order to be able to create positive change with more energy and focus. That’s a win-win, in my book.

(PS: Seriously though, if you’re not sure what I’m talking about with needing to be more discerning about watching the news, try this: try not actively watching the news and instead sit in a room nearby listening in order to count the number of “bad” things they share as compared to the “good” things. I’ve done this. It’s even worse than you might imagine.)

 

Sour Grapes Make Bad Wine

Sour Grapes Quote

I was talking with a friend the other day, and we were both sharing similar stories of what happened when we had announced something successful in our lives. The common denominator after each announcement? We both “lost” followers/friends on online platforms.

*sigh*

Why do we do this? It takes a certain amount of thought and a deliberate action to “unfollow” or “unfriend” someone, and when it’s done in response to that person sharing some happy news, it simply causes me to shake my head in wonder.

But we’re human, right? We feel things and we get reactionary. I know I do. I do my best not to, and it’s definitely not my immediate “go-to” anymore, but sometimes it still happens. And when it does, I actually recoil myself and take a minute to pause, breathe, and reframe whatever is going on in my head – which is usually a story (hint: It’s always a story), as in:

That person doesn’t like me.
I’m not good enough.
There isn’t enough to go around.
They’re stealing my share.

Actually, I had a conversation a long time ago with someone who told me that somebody famous had “stolen her story,” which to her was her identity. In truth, it was both of their identities in some way, but because the famous person had said it first on an international stage, this person in front of me was convinced that she could never share her story, because there wasn’t room for her anymore. How sad.

That one conversation has stayed with me for years. I imagine it will stay with me forever. Why? Because it’s a tangible example of what happens when we live a life from a place of lack and fear, instead of a place of abundance and possibility. No two stories are exactly the same, however similar they may sound. The main difference is that no two people would share their stories in exactly the same way, which is what makes each person on the planet unique: their voice. It’s when you think otherwise that you leave room for resentment and envy to plant seeds.

Which brings me back to my original statement: Sour grapes make bad wine. 

When we approach someone else’s success or uniqueness with envy, resentment, frustration, or even anger, we are turning ourselves into sour grapes. And nobody likes that. Furthermore, when sour grapes are added into the barrel of life, they taint the wine, and nobody likes that. Eventually what happens is people start to exclude us, because they simply don’t want to be around something so bitter.

The flip side is also true, and for me it’s what I focus on. If someone is going to unfriend, unfollow, or even talk badly about me or my work – I can now choose to happily let them go, because I don’t want their sour grapes tainting my delicious barrel of wine. While the initial realization may sting a bit (again, we’re all human, and it obviously takes effort to unfollow someone), the truth is the best the balm I could ever imagine. And then I can find gratitude that they have removed themselves and self-identified as someone that doesn’t blend well with what I’m offering.

Or, to put it another way, as my friend Jen Pastiloff says: Instead of getting caught up in who doesn’t like you, get caught up in who does. 

Ahh… what sweet wine that is!

Failure’s Message

Well, I failed my Theosophy exam. I just found out last week, and I was bummed when I opened the email. After 8 months of reading, thinking and reflecting on the materials introduced in the course (and passing every quiz along the way with flying colors!) I was stunned with my final result.

After my initial disappointment, however, I decided to reach out to the course instructor and ask how I had failed. Was it the exam? The coursework over the months? What was the deciding factor? Since he had mentioned it could be a either or a combination of the two in his final email, I thought it needed some investigation.

As it turns out, I was one question off from passing. That’s not to say that I was close to 100% – far from it. I needed a passing score of 75% (or 40 correct), and I achieved just under that. I got 39 out of 53 questions correct.

The instructor considered passing me, he said, but then he reviewed which questions I got wrong and decided to hold the standard. Rightly so. As it turns out the example he gave me of a question I got wrong was glaring. It went against the core teachings of the tradition. And he said there were a few other examples that were similar, therefore showing that I failed to grasp the basic tenets of Theosophy, even if I understood some of the more nuanced pieces.

I have to admit I was shocked. Firstly, I knew the correct answer to that question, so I have no idea why I chose something else. Secondly, I passed the quizzes with 95-100% accuracy, so how could it all go so wrong?

Once my nervous system settled down a bit, I wrote him back and thanked him for upholding the standard (I agreed with that decision), and explained how I can only attribute the wrong answer to user error while taking the exam itself, because I had given the correct answer previously on a quiz, and I also knew it. I haven’t heard back from him, and don’t know if I will. And that’s ok. Because after a few more breaths, I realized something very important:

My failure was a message.

You see, I’ve had a lot on my plate this year and I haven’t always been giving things my undivided attention. Everything from physical health to spiritual health has been somewhat half-assed, just to get through. I approached my exam the same way. I put it off until the last possible weekend in which I could take it and set aside the three hours needed to complete it. But, I wasn’t free from distractions, nor was I 100% focused on the task itself. I knew it when I sat down, but the exam had become something to cross off a list, so I did.

Looking back, I can see that this has become a pattern of sorts in my life. I have been moving through things to get to the place of “being done,” rather than moving through things and being present as I went. In other words, I have been running part-time on auto-pilot, while not actually fueling my vehicle appropriately, or consulting my navigation.

In my coaching practice, I teach my clients the importance of “book-ending” their healthy solutions. It’s a tool that makes everything that much more powerful and successful. As it turns out, I have been bookending my life in the unhealthy way with a combination of distraction and pushing, to simply “get through,” which made it that much more pronounced when I tried to just get something done, and failed.

I’m glad I failed. I don’t see it as a loss, even though I paid for the course. In fact, I still have the knowledge I gained, I just don’t have the piece of paper that reflects that. And that’s ok, because it shouldn’t be about the paper. (Well, not always.) Many times, it needs to be about the process and the intangibles that are learned along the way. And while I learned many other intangibles throughout the past year (which I’m sure I’ll write about later), it was the final intangible of failure that put the past 12 months into perspective. What a gift! Because as I go into 2018, I can now be more aware of how I wish to show up in everything I do, and I can make deliberate choices from a place of empowered knowing, rather than just pushing through.

 

 

Frequency 101: What it is, Why it’s important, and How to work with it

I am incredibly fortunate in my friendships and relationships with other like-minded people on similar journeys. It reminds me of one of my all-time favorite quotes by Ram Dass: “We’re all just walking each other home.”

Recently, I had a wonderful conversation with one such person in my life, and I was so grateful after we hung up that I asked her to write a piece for InspireBytes™ reiterating what we had discussed and what she had shared with me from her experience, study and wisdom. It’s about the importance of frequency and how we can work with it to create positive change in our lives. With the new year upon us and a seemingly overwhelming desire to make changes, this might be a really helpful way to look at things.

Franny says it so well, and I’m glad she agreed to share it here so that the rest of you can benefit from her words. Everything is energy. Everything is frequency, and yes… we get to choose how to work with it and therefore change our own. Pretty cool stuff!

Frequency… what is it really? And, more importantly, how can we work with it to our benefit?

When you hear the word “FREQUENCY” what does it conjure up in your mind? And how could exploring frequency support us in our path to having the greatest potential of sound Body, Mind, and Spirit?

The definition of Frequency that I am referring to (from Webster’s online) is as follows: “The rate at which a vibration occurs that constitutes a wave, either in a material (as in sound waves), or in an electromagnetic field (as in radio waves and light), usually measured per second.”

But why is it important to cultivate the highest frequency within our essence as we can?

We are innately the “Light of the Divine,” and we all hold this spark of light within us. This spark of the Divine is often referred to as our “Core Star.” The Core Star has its own High Frequency that is Pure. This purity has no trauma, distortions, or low vibrations within it, unlike our physical body which can hold trauma, illness, congestion as lower vibrations. When we tap into our Core Star and begin to elevate and expand that frequency throughout our physical and energy body, we have the potential to regain health, wellness and radiant joy in body, mind, and spirit. The applications for our own and our planetary well-being are infinite. Therefore, it is important to cultivate and expand our Core Essence.

To practice accessing and working with this Divine Spark, allow yourself to sit in a quiet place – maybe outside leaning up against a tree, or sitting at the ocean listening to the waves crash, or maybe in your favorite chair at home. Scan your body from head to toe with your mind’s eye and ask where your currently “feel, experience or sense” your Divine Spark. Once you have located it, breathe into the center of the spark and allow it to expand in your body.  Because this Core Star is a High Frequency, it can clear lower congested frequencies.

Practice this daily to invite Divine Light into every cell of your body, clearing/healing and balancing all aspects of your “self.”  Being consciously aware and choosing to bring your awareness to your frequency and raising it is a powerful tool. – Franny Harcey, Co-Founder of the Awakening Healing Academy

To learn more about Franny, her colleagues, and their offerings, check out their website at  www.awakeninghealingacademy.com

Happy Accidents

Accidents happen, and rarely do we call them “happy.” Then something comes along to change that and suddenly they become ‘Happy Accidents.’ But we never know they’re actually “happy” until after the fact. 

This is a simple truth about a lot of life. Hindsight is the tool that allows us to take perspective and choose new adjectives, right?

Earlier today I tried to trim my own (long, overgrown and frustrating) bangs. But I ended up taking off a lot more than I had planned (because I’m not a hairstylist – duh). I thought it would be simple, and it wasn’t. My “trim” resulted in weird blunt wonky pieces of hair draped in front of my eyes. 

Somewhat laughing, I called my hairdresser, but she was too busy. However, she referred me to someone else she works with who had some time available today, and… voila! My blunder became a ‘happy accident’ in the form of a totally new hairstyle that I love.
I love when something unplanned (and potentially frustrating) turns into something unexpectedly awesome, don’t you? It happens more than we realize or acknowledge though. Unfortunately, we are a bit too programmed to focus on the “bad” or frustrating bit, rather than enjoying the positive change. I see it daily… people seem to be more and more hard-wired to complain, than they are to celebrate or enjoy. It’s almost as if we’re not allowed to truly be happy with our lives. 

Hindsight gives us a choice, though. It allows us to look back and change the adjective, and thereby change the experience. People say we can’t change the past, but that’s not entirely true. Because we can change how we feel about the past, which, in essence, changes it in our memories. It’s a superpower too few people are exercising. 

Now, to be clear, this is not about denying an event or creating revisionist history. Facts are facts. But how we feel about the facts can be updated. It can be modified through a shift in perspective, turning something frustrating or difficult into something neutral, or even positive. 

It’s not always easy, mind you. Sometimes it takes a fair amount of work, but the guarantee is that it’s always worth it. Why? Because low vibration emotions take a lot more energy than high-vibration, or even neutral, memories. Shifting perspective and attributing new feelings to something that has already happened frees up the emotional, mental, and energetic space inside you that had been given over to maintaining the complaint. And that, is a very happy accident, indeed. 

Make Time – Take Time

It’s December 4th, and I am already witnessing the stressors of the holiday season begin to show up. Upon running a few simple errands today I saw both frustrated and happy shoppers. Some were smiling as they completed the tasks they set out to achieve, while others were grumbling as they pushed their carts through the aisles.

Is attitude a choice?

We’ve been taught over and over again by leading authors and “gurus” that we can choose a positive attitude throughout our life. And while that may be true, it’s also rather dismissive, isn’t it? (Personally, I’ve never appreciated someone telling me to adopt an “attitude of gratitude” or a “positive mental outlook” when I’m in the midst of some stressor or another.)

So, while our mood may or may not be a choice, we definitely have power over how we choose to spend our time… which directly affects our mood.

This is where a favorite rhyming couplet comes into play:

Make Time – Take Time

Make Time to Take Time

When we make time to take time, we empower ourselves to take action that leads to a more peaceful presence. In other words, our mood becomes a byproduct of our actions and decisions.

But, what does this actually mean? If you’ve known me at all, you know that I like things to be both accessible and actionable. Making time to take time looks like this:

Carving out 15 minutes in the morning to sip your tea or coffee from a favorite mug, while listening to music, an audiobook or a podcast.

Setting aside 10 minutes a day before bed for private quiet time. It can be meditation, or a spa-like ritual of pampering your skin. (Lately, I’ve been focusing on my feet, and boy does that 10-minute massage feel good!)

Planning 15 minutes ahead of schedule when you have an event to go to, so that you arrive feeling relaxed and excited, rather than rushed and frazzled.

Choosing to sit down and eat your dinner at the table with nice plates and silverware, and savoring every bite, even if you’ve ordered in.

Ordering in! Even the best cooks need a break. Ordering in is a simple indulgence that allows you to reclaim at least 30 minutes that would have been spent cooking.

As you can see from the list, it’s all about being deliberate with our time. Our society has a tendency to glorify being “busy” – but there’s no trophy for feeling frazzled and stressed. Typically, there’s only exhaustion and frustration, and nobody likes that.

So, in order to shift your attitude from one of grumbling through the aisles to one of quiet joy in accomplishing your everyday tasks (including attending numerous holiday events), instead of choosing your mood it might be easier to choose how you spend your time. We do this by carving out little snippets of time in our day to create moments of pleasure, joy, or peace. It really does make all the difference.